Regardless of where you stand on the debate currently raging over school discipline, one thing seems certain: Self-discipline is far better than the externally imposed kind.
Over the years, Catholic schools have been particularly committed to the formation of sound character, including the acquisition of self-discipline. But how well has that worked? We wanted to know whether students in Catholic school actually exhibit more self-discipline than their peers—and if so, what those schools can teach other public and private schools about how it can be fostered.
To lead the study, we recruited Michael Gottfried, Associate Professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). Jacob Kirksey, a doctoral student at UCSB, helped to analyze the data and co-wrote the report. To our knowledge, theirs is the first study to explore the potential effects of Catholic schooling on elementary students' self-discipline.
Gottfried and Kirksey analyzed two waves of nationally representative data on elementary school students that were collected as part of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten (ECLS-K).
Their analysis revealed three key findings.
- Students in Catholic schools are less likely to act out or be disruptive than those in other private schools or in public schools. According...